Tuesday, February 13, 2007

To Derbe and Beyond! 2.11 Acts 14:21-28

“To Infinity and Beyond!” was the famous line from the “Toy Story” movie. While that line was entertaining, the real toys could not really go anywhere. They were limited to the power in their batteries and yet, they started to do incredible acts of heroism. Saving other toys from destruction, from being locked up in a Toy collection forever or from being blown up or pulled apart by a neighborhood boy-bully.

Within this passage, To Derbe and Beyond! , we will be looking at what a church planter can look forward to as they move the Gospel around their area. What are they to teach? They too were limited to the power of their battery. Yet, they will be doing incredible acts of evangelism because of the indwelling Power of God's Spirit. Let's stand up to give Honor to the reading of the Word of God.

(Please Read Acts 14:21-28)

A while ago, I made mention that: "A religious faith is always one generation from extinction." How do we pass on the Gospel within our own families? How can we guard our Faith from extinction? Does it matter what that Faith is based on? Whether in a busy European city or on a calm South Pacific Ocean atoll, we must be on our guard to falsehood and cultish teaching. How do you know the difference? As we mentioned before from

1 Peter 5:8

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

First, we must really know what we believe. Last week, we recited the Apostle's Creed before we took the Bread and Juice of Communion. I asked: “Believer, what do you believe?”

A while ago, a struggling believer once said…
“Though I am an old Doctor of Divinity, to this day I have not got beyond the children's learning-the Ten Commandments, the (Creed), and the Lord's Prayer; and these I understand not so well as I should, though I study them daily, praying with my son John and my daughter Magdalen.” -Martin Luther wrote that in his Table-Talk. This speaks of family time sharing and praying with and for the family!

Let's start there: The Creed was used to teach and remind believers to ready them for Baptism and for life.

1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: Basic statement of who is our God. The God of Genesis with the creation of all that we know to be around us and a lot that is around us we haven't got a clue about! We are defining our central control and central Being of our Faith. I believe in God, the Lord and Creator of all that is.

2. And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord: I also believe in His Son, known in history as Jesus of Nazareth. This One is the only begotten of the Father. No one uses that term any more so a definition is needed. From an old English word- Beget. But what I feel shows us a better meaning is that Jesus is and has been Eternally one with the Father yet was born as a human in Bethlehem. This Son was the Son of the God of Creation we first encounter in the beginning of this creed. He is the One Dr. Luke wrote about in his Gospel and in the book of Acts-so that we might believe in Him. Read Luke 1:3-4.

He had no beginning-He always was and IS and Forever more will be. He co-exist with the Father-part of the Triune God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary: This is how Jesus came to become human. He was fully human and still Divinely One with the Father. The FACT that Mary was a virgin is a very hotly contested issue and one that needs to be understood fully. IF this one area falls from a person's belief system, it undercuts the Truth of Jesus' Miracle birth. The communist government of a nation to our west is printing Bibles with at least this one fact missing from it's pages. It is to undercut this miracle birth of Jesus so that in years to come few would know of the Truth. They print that she was only a young woman or girl. It is important to KNOW that the OT predicted that a young VIRGIN would give birth to the Promised One. Jesus' deity somewhat rests on this!

4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: The suffering of the Savior was one of the misunderstandings during the years right around Jesus' life and ministry and a few years beyond. They were looking for a military leader who would crush Roman rule and restore the Throne of David in Israel. By using the Roman name of Pilate, it gives the sense of when this happened. A part of real history. It also shows us HOW Jesus was to die, also something that was foretold many years before. That He indeed died-not fell asleep-or change into another body of one who looked like Jesus, or disappeared, but really died. Over 5,000 saw Him alive after the resurrection. This would tell those who follow this testimony how and when Jesus was killed.

He descended into hell: Well, to tell the truth, this was added later to this creed and many of the early copies of the creed did not include this. It became entwined with a difficult teaching of where did Jesus 'really' go during those three days. Some later teaching was that He went to speak with the dead Father's of the Hebrew Tribe and released them from whatever held them back from entering Heaven. Some taught that Jesus went into a limbo state where souls could still make the choice to follow or not follow Jesus. This would allow for a 'second chance' theory that Scripture just does not support. We have placed that line in light print only to recognize that it was in some of the creeds but not the one we hold to or repeat.

5. The third day he rose again from the dead: This was one of the main central teachings of Paul and the early teachers of the Faith. Unless He really did not raise from the dead then our faith and all we hold dear to our salvation is foolishness. He rose from the dead to prove that He did indeed have the Power He said He had over Death and Sin. The early Believes' cry:
He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!
-would be the central teaching that would keep Christianity different from any world faith/religion. Our God is Alive!

6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: The bodily ascension or raising of Jesus physically was also predicted by the Prophets as to a proof of Who He really was. He would also return that same way as the angles said He would in Acts 1. He was not a spirit but the real Body of Jesus.

7. From thence (from there) He shall come to judge the quick (living) and the dead: The Promise of His return floods the NT. He will return to earth to call His Church to Himself and to bring final judgment on the world. He will return from Heaven to the earth to set up His Forever Kingdom. The judgment of God will happen at the end of time!

8. I believe in the Holy Ghost: The Third Person of the God Head. We do not believe in three Gods, nor do we believe that one is separate from the other. The God Head is Three in One. While the word Trinity does not explicitly appear in the New Testament, its basis however is established by the New Testament: The coming of Jesus Christ and the presumed presence and power of God among them had implications for the early Christians.

"The Holy Spirit, who's coming was connected with the celebration of the Pentecost. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were associated in such New Testament passages as the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19); and in the apostolic benediction: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14)."-
Taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

9. I believe in the holy catholic church: Meaning the Church universal and not the one Roman Catholic church based in Rome. Belief of the Body of Christ around the world is tied to yourself in purpose and message to reach the world with the Message of the Gospel of Jesus' Salvation.

the communion of saints: We are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses as we find in Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

10. The forgiveness of sins: This is what Jesus accomplished on the Cross; He died for our sins and paid the only price that would cover our disobedience of God's Laws and commands. His Blood cleanses us from all sin.

11. The resurrection of the body: The goal of our walk, to be raised into life from our death and to be forever with the Lord.

12. And the life everlasting. The final resting place of all who believe. Life that will be everlasting in the presence of our God and Father, His Son and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen. The end or I agree.
Here we have Paul returning to the very places he had faced some very hard times. People who wanted him dead, yet he returned to: 22
strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.
The teaching was strongly based on staying with the Gospel-even in tough times.
"We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said.

During these visits of undetermined time, he goal was to set up a church government that would work on it's own, as it were, to bring the teaching in line with what the Council back at the Mother Church in Antioch had taught.

Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for each church and supported them and in truth gave birth to them with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
To me, this is very telling of the need to belong to a local Body of believers. We are to function as one in conduct and belief and in the society we live in. We are answerable to one another with certain guidelines that are there to build us up in the faith. These whom Paul and Barnabas were setting up in the office of elder were therefore responsible for the well being of the local church and accountable to the Mother Church in Antioch.

Along with their setting up the church, the preaching of the Gospel was still their bread and butter, as it were. The mainstay of the message was the Gospel. And when it was shared, spoken, preached, there were results: 21

They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples.
And in verse 25

and when they had preached the word in Perga,
Making their way back home, they returned to the place were it all started. The place where they were set apart to the ministry of the Gospel by the laying on of hands after a time/period of prayer and fasting. To where they had been committed to the Grace of God for the work they had now completed.

All this was the Work of God's Spirit! The Spirit of God used willing men to bring His Great Message of Salvation to the Gentile world and even some Jews believed along the way.
Now, they gathered the local church together and had a mission's conference. They reported what had happened. They told stories of how the Spirit of God had moved them from city to city. They showed their scars and told of the beatings. All this without a Power Point! Their power point was the Working of God in the loves of those who heard and believed because they went in obedience to the call. They spoke of how the Power of God had opened the door of Faith to the Gentiles.

If we are to reach the 170,000+ people in Tokorozawa for Christ, we need to go. We need to reach out into their lives. Take some risks and talk of the Power of God. Take the Power for Living booklets and the Gideon Bibles to those who are called to believe. Do you know who they are? No, and neither did Paul and Barnabas. They just went with the Power of God on them and they spoke of a changed life and they gave witness of that changed life by their lifestyle.
Just like what we are to do here in our city. To ready them to hear the Good news, we need to be sure we have prayer support for such an adventure. After they prayed and fasted, they sent out the group to evangelize the area for Christ. Are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution? With Christ on our side, we can make a huge difference in this city of Tokorozawa. We can join with other pastors and their communities and work hand in hand with them to be a front line of Christ's Men and Women who are walking in obedience with God's call to love those who need to know.

And it will take time. Stay around, if you can. Verse 28 said that too! 28
And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.
Next Sunday is our THIRD Sunday of the month. This means we will be having a great time after the service with our monthly Covered Dish Love Feast. Pleace bring some food to share and enjoy a meal with your friends at ICCS. Right after the service.